Delhi High Court: A suit was filed by the plaintiff against a number of rogue websites that are unlawfully disseminating and communicating a large quantum of copyrighted content of the plaintiffs. Prathiba M Singh, J., granted an ex-parte ad interim injunction restraining the defendants, who are all rogue websites, from in any manner streaming, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public, and/or communicating to the public any copyrighted content of the plaintiffs including future works of the plaintiffs, in which ownership of copyright is undisputed, through their websites identified in the present suit or any mirror/redirect websites or alphanumeric websites, or any variations thereof including those websites which are associated with the defendants websites either based on the name, branding, identity of its operator, or discovered to provide additional means of accessing the defendant’s website, and other domains/ domain along with their sub-domains and subdirectories, owners, website operators/ entities or even sources of content.
The plaintiffs claim that the content created, produced, and distributed by, or on behalf of the Plaintiffs’ studios, can be accessed and viewed on a variety of devices including Televisions, Personal Computers, Laptops, Tablets, Mobile Phones, etc. The said gadgets also permit authorized streaming and downloading of this content. The plaintiffs’ studios own Copyright in the entire content which is protectable as cinematograph films and own rights in various underlying works which are recognized under the Copyright Act, 1957. The Plaintiffs also claim to have devoted enormous resources in the creation, production and distribution of the content, as also communication of the content so developed to the public. It is also stated that considerable effort and resources are used for even marketing and advertising of the content developed by the plaintiffs.
The present suit was filed by the plaintiffs against various websites which permit the viewing, streaming, accessing, and downloading of such content without any license or authorisation from the plaintiffs. The various websites which are impleaded as Defendant 1 to 45 have different avatars but continue to make available the unauthorised content of the plaintiffs and also other copyright holders. Such websites primarily contain content that is being taken in an unauthorised manner, from various platforms including that of the plaintiffs. Some of the websites are newer versions of rogue websites that have been injuncted in other litigation.
The Court noted that a situation has arisen where several documents have been placed on record by the Plaintiffs clearly demonstrating a brazen effort towards continued piracy on the internet. While the internet provides unimpeded access, one of its challenges is unrestricted access to such rogue websites. However, as soon as these websites come to the attention of any court of law or law enforcement authority, their free access deserves to be blocked. The rogue websites are offering illegal viewing almost on a real-time basis to Plaintiffs’ content such as Stranger Things, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Batman, Spider Man: No Way Home, Top Gun: Maverick, The Jungle Book, etc.
The Court concluded that a dynamic+ injunction deserves to be granted, failing which, the pirated content will continue to be viewed, replicated, and communicated to the public, causing immense loss to the economic as also moral rights of the plaintiffs. In the said process, various illegalities that are being committed would also be encouraged if no injunction is granted. Moreover, as is clear from viewing one of the infringing websites, coolmoviez.cloud, the clear position that emerges is that serious illegalities are also sought to be committed by these websites and unlawful activities are also being encouraged.
Thus, the plaintiffs have established a prima facie case for the grant of an injunction. Balance of convenience is also in favour of the plaintiffs in view of the unauthorised and illegal use of Copyrighted content by such rogue websites leading to significant monetary losses to the plaintiffs. Irreparable harm and injury are likely to be caused if the injunction as sought is not granted. The Court restrained defendants 1-45 from streaming, reproducing, distributing, making available to the public, and/or communicating to the public, in any manner, any copyrighted content of the plaintiffs including future works of the plaintiffs.
The Court directed defendants 46-54 to block the websites and Department of Telecommunications (DOT) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to issue blocking orders against the websites within a period of one week from the release of the order. The Domain Name Registrars (DNRs) of the rogue websites’ domain names, upon being intimated by the Plaintiffs shall lock and suspend the said domain names.
The matter is next listed for 21-03-2024.
[Universal City Studios LLC v FZTVSeries.Mobi, 2023 SCC OnLine Del 7313, decided on 21-11-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Saikrishna Rajagopal, Ms. Suhasini Raina, Ms. R. Ramya, Ms. Mehr Sidhu and Mr. Raghav Goyal, Advocates for plaintiff